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A System Administrator is a professional who plays an integral role in maintaining organizational policies to ensure integrity of network and computer systems.

Computer system administrators or more commonly known as Sysadmins, are the folks that makes network resources available in any organization. Without them, key infrastructure services that fuels the information and communications heartbeat of a company will not be able to function properly.

System Administrator responsibilities include:

  • Installing and configuring software, hardware and networks
  • Monitoring system performance and troubleshooting issues
  • Ensuring security and efficiency of IT infrastructure

System administrators are usually expected to be a know-all on anything that relates to ICT. Among system administrators, there may be specialized or expertise areas but across the board, most system administrators are required to be at least equipped with the following 10 skills or knowledge to it.

Problem Fixing and Administration

System admins have two main jobs: Solving problems, and anticipating problems before they happen.

This requires a critical mindset and concrete process to approaching issues. Red Hat sysadmin David Both recommends a five-step approach to tackling problems within a system: knowledge, observation, deduction, action, and testing.

Networking Infrastructure

More organizations are turning to network virtualization, so understanding SD-WAN, vLAN, SD-branch, and SASE is a must. Understanding VPNs is also essential, especially as the shift to remote work is putting an emphasis on security.

Cloud Technology

According to RightScale’s 2019 State of the Cloud report, 94% of all businesses use the cloud in some form. Sysadmins should be aware of cloud architecture, the nuances of the major cloud providers such as AWS and Google Cloud, and the security issues around storing data on the public cloud.

Automation and Scripting

Automated processes have taken over many of the more tedious network maintenance tasks. However, this doesn’t mean a sysadmin can simply ignore the network. Instead, they need to be able to administer to automated processes, and possibly write a few of their own.

Security and Monitoring

Security has become a major concern on all levels of IT due to the spike in phishing, ransomware attacks, and data breaches over the past few years. This is why security has become a major system administrator skill. Sysadmins need to address security issues before they start, such as enforcing protocol and educating users about security best practices. As well, they should be familiar with monitoring platforms such as SolarWinds and DataDog.

Account Access Management

Part of security is managing user accounts. Poor password hygiene can lead to disaster, which is why two-factor authentication is becoming essential to keeping accounts secure. Sysadmins should also be familiar with account management applications and software such as Okta or OneLogin, which provide an easy and secure way of managing passwords and credentials.

IoT/Mobile Device Management

IoT devices are some of the most vulnerable devices on the network, due to their barebones built-in security. The trend of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) also poses a risk to the network, which means sysadmins must know how to secure those devices and protect the system from these new threat vectors.

Scripting Languages

The most popular scripting languages for sysadmins include HTML and JavaScript; Red Hat also recommends Go, Bash, Python, and Node.js, especially in a DevOps environment.

Hardware Management

Sysadmins work with physical servers as much as they do with their virtual interfaces. Sysadmins may have to set up physical server connections and racks, manually configure devices such as printers, or set up ethernet ports.

SQL Database

Structured Query Language (SQL) is used to manage databases. It’s used to write APIs, as well as handling structured data. It’s one of the most basic and important aspects of database management, and becoming an increasingly desired skill in sysadmins.

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